'That's my business,' said Mr Weasley, though with a small smile. He snatched up the Daily Prophet, shook it open again and said, '] was just reading about Willy Widdershins's arrest when you arrived. You know Willy turned out to be behind those regurgitating toilets back in the summer? One of his jinxes backfired, the toilet exploded and they found him lying unconscious in the wreckage covered from head to foot in - '
'Yeah, well,' said Moody, 'there's something funny about the Potter kid, we all know that.'
'Sirius knows not to destroy your portrait,' said Dumbledore, and Harry realised immediately where he had heard Phineas's voice before: issuing from the apparently empty frame in his bedroom in Grimmauld Place. 'You are to give him the message that Arthur Weasley has been gravely injured and that his wife, children and Harry Potter will be arriving at his house shortly. Do you understand?'
And moments later, the silver-ringleted witch had reappeared in her picture, too; she sank, coughing, into her armchair and said, "Yes, they've taken him to St Mungo's, Dumbledore . . . they carried him past my portrait . . . he looks bad . . ."
'Minerva, I need you to go and wake the other Weasley children.'
At once, Harry's scar burned white-hot, as though the old wound had burst open again - and unbidden, unwanted, but terrifyingly strong, there rose within Harry a hatred so powerful he felt, for that instant, he would like nothing better than to strike - to bite - to sink his fangs into the man before him - '
Harry could hardly bear her gratitude, but fortunately she soon released him to turn to Sirius and thank him for looking after her children through the night. Sirius said he was very pleased to have been able to help, and hoped they would all stay with him as long as Mr Weasley was in hospital.
'Course we can go to St Mungo's if we want,' said Fred, with a mulish expression. 'He's our dad!'
He felt dirty, contaminated, as though he were carrying some deadly germ, unworthy to sit on the Underground train back from the hospital with innocent, clean people whose minds and bodies were free of the taint of Voldemort . . . he had not merely seen the snake, he had been the snake, he knew it now . . .
'Yes,' said Harry impatiently 'but he didn't tell me what it meant. Well, he doesn't tell me anything any more.'
'I'm sure he would have told you if it was anything to worry about,' said Sirius steadily
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That's enough,' said Mrs Weasley crossly. 'Mad-Eye and Tonks are outside, Arthur, they want to come and see you. And you lot can wait outside,' she added to her children and Harry. 'You can come and say goodbye afterwards. Go on.'
They were all watching him. He shook his head violently and stared up at an advertisement for home insurance.
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Witches and wizards in lime-green robes were walking up and down the rows, asking questions and making notes on clipboards like Umbridge's. Harry noticed the emblem embroidered on their chests: a wand and bone, crossed.
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The wizard nodded; the witch said, 'Naturally.'
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'Like who?' said Sirius impatiently. 'Listen, your dad's been hurt while on duty for the Order and the circumstances are fishy enough without his children knowing about it seconds after it happened, you could seriously damage the Order's - '
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When Ron woke up, Harry pretended to have enjoyed a refreshing nap too. Their trunks arrived from Hogwarts while they were eating lunch, so they could dress as Muggles for the trip to St Mungo's. Everybody except Harry was riotously happy and talkative as they changed out of their robes into jeans and sweatshirts. When Tonks and Mad-Eye turned up to escort them across London, they greeted them gleefully, laughing at the bowler hat Mad-Eye was wearing at an angle to conceal his magical eye and assuring him, truthfully,
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'Thank you,' said Dumbledore. He looked round at Professor McGonagall.